British Columbia

Bentall Centre tragedy: Mike Davis recalls father's death on 35th anniversary

Mike Davis will never forget the day 35 year ago he arrived home from school to find his mother looking worried after hearing on the radio about an accident at his father's work site.

Davis was only 13-year-old when his father fell 36 floors to his death in a construction accident

Mike Davis attended the memorial to mark the 35th anniversary of the Bental Centre Tragedy in honour of his father. (CBC)

Mike Davis will never forget the day in 1981 when he arrived home from school to find his mother looking worried.

The radio was on, and there was news of a bad accident at the Bentall Tower construction site where his father was working. 

"My mom said something's happened at dad's work," he recounted to CBC, fighting back tears. "She made calls but nobody had any information."

"Gradually the afternoon wore on, getting closer to supper time and him not coming home," he said. "Eventually the RCMP came to the door."

Donald Wayne Davis, 34, was one of four carpenters who died that day, falling 36 floors when a fly form used for pouring concrete broke away from the top of the Bentall Centre's Tower IV. 

Today, on the 35th anniversary of the accident, a memorial was held at the site of the Bentall Centre Tragedy.

People gathered to lay wreaths Thursday at the 35th anniversary of the Bentall Centre tragedy in which four construction workers died. (CBC)

About a hundred people gathered to lay wreaths and flowers, including Mike Davis, who was just 13-year-old when he lost his father.

"It's always remember the losses, the ultimate sacrifices that our fathers, brothers, sisters, friends and mothers," said Davis. "We can learn from that, and be vigilant in staying safe, and making sure our children go to work being safe."

A statement from the B.C Building Trades says "the construction industry has tolerated an average of 27 deaths a year since the Bentall Centre tragedy."

"Now more then ever, the responsibility for workers' safety rests with WorkSafe inspectors, employees and the employees themselves." 

In B.C., worker deaths from accidents have steadily declined over the last 25 years, while deaths from work-related diseases — especially asbestos exposure — have steadily risen. 

With files from Tina Lovgreen